The Cosmological Argument (I)

In the past few posts I have been laying out the reasons why I believe that we can be justified in believing in God on the basis of experiences of him that we have; and through testimony, on the experiences of others.

My next basis for believing in God is the very existence of the universe, or anything at all. God, I believe, is the best explanation for why there is something rather than nothing. This is the cosmological argument for God’s existence. A simple way of presenting it is as follows:

  1. Everything that exists contingently has a cause of its existence.
  2. The universe exists contingently.
  3. If the universe has a cause of its existence, then God exists.
  4. Therefore, God exists.

This is a logically valid deduction, so that if the premises (the first three statements) are true, the conclusion is guaranteed to be true as well. More generally, we can say that the conclusion is at least as likely to be true as the conjunction of the three premises. So if the premises are more plausibly true than false, the conclusion is as well.

So the defense of the cosmological argument comes down to the defense of these three premises. The first premise is a corollary of the principle of sufficient reason. The second premise is intuitive. The third premise is an inference to the best explanation for what the cause of the universe must be like. And from these, the existence of God follows.

For a quick introduction to this version of the cosmological argument, check out this animated video. Contemporary philosophers who defend this cosmological argument include Alexander Pruss and William Lane Craig.

Everything that Exists Contingently Has a Cause

I have defended the principle of sufficient reason (the PSR) at length in previous posts. One way of stating this principle is that every contingent truth has an explanation. Some truths are metaphysically necessary, that is, they could not possibly have been false no matter how reality could possibly have been. Examples of such truths include the laws of logic. It is uncertain how we can explain why such truths are true, aside from the fact that they are necessary.

Other truths are contingent, that is, they could have been false (again in the sense that it is metaphysically possible). These are truths like the fact that dinosaurs are extinct, or that Canada became a country in 1867. As I have written before, it seems to me that such truths all ultimately have a causal explanation, either in the laws of nature or in the choices of personal agents. (I see no other way of explaining truths that are not necessary.) If my earlier defense of the principle of sufficient reason is successful, this immediately implies the first premise: if something exists contingently, there is a cause of its existence.

The reasons that I gave before for the PSR included an argument that the validity of non-deductive forms of reasoning depend crucially on the PSR, an argument for the PSR based on the fact that we never observe any violations of it (things popping into existence without a cause), and an argument for the PSR based on the nature of possibility and necessity. I see these as very powerful reasons to believe the first premise.

Are there reasons to reject the first premise? I have dealt with a number of objections to the PSR in a previous post, and I do not think any of them succeed. Often, though, the atheist who wants to avoid the cosmological argument will just say that the universe is an exception to the first premise: everything that exists in the universe has a cause, but the existence of the universe itself is simply a bare, inexplicable fact.

It is question-begging and arbitrary to make this exception without supporting reasons, so what reasons are there to think that the first premise does not apply to the universe? I cannot see any that do not implicitly presume atheism. (For example, the universe cannot have an explanation, because anything that could explain the universe would just be a state of nothingness. But that assumes that God does not exist, which is circular reasoning as an objection against the cosmological argument.)

In fact, I think there are very good reasons to think that the universe (or anything else, for that matter) cannot be an exception to the principle of sufficient reason. If something can exist with no cause or explanation for its existence, then it effectively is produced out of nothing – and nothing has no properties or attributes that can constrain what kind of things it can produce.

This means that if universes can come out of nothing, anything can. But we simply never observe anything coming out of nothing. Therefore, all of our experience supports the belief that the principle of sufficient reason stands, without exceptions.

(Note: it would be incorrect, I believe, to say that subatomic particles can come out of nothing in phenomena like spontaneous pair production. Rather, according to quantum field theory, particles are excitations in quantum fields that pervade all of space-time. If these quantum fields did not exist, the particles could not be produced.)

(Another note: God himself is not an exception to the first premise, either. The classical theistic position for the last thousand years or so has been that God exists necessarily, rather than contingently. And so the first premise in no way implies that God has a cause: it only talks about contingently existing things.)

The Universe Exists Contingently

It should go without saying that the universe exists. It is a slightly stronger claim to say that it exists contingently: it exists, but it is possible for it to not exist. Nevertheless, I think this second premise is quite intuitive, and more plausible than the alternative assertion that the universe exists necessarily.

It seems extraordinarily ad hoc to say that this universe exists of its own necessity. Physicists (as well as philosophers) often speculate about different quantum fields, space-time structures, initial conditions, or entirely different laws of physics – is it metaphysically impossible that universes with these features could have existed instead of ours? And it seems to me that if such a universe did exist, it would indeed be an entirely different universe – as much as a statue in a different shape and made of a different material is an entirely different statue. If it is possible for a different universe to exist instead of ours, then our universe is contingent.

Going even further, we could ask why a universe like ours exists instead of a fantasy universe like Tolkien’s Middle Earth, or C. S. Lewis’s Narnia. Is there anything metaphysically impossible about those kind of universes? Again, I don’t see anything preventing them, or worlds like them, from being possible worlds (which is part of why they make good stories).

(Note: in contrast, it is not ad hoc to suppose that God exists necessarily, since, unlike the universe, he is a metaphysically simple, perfect being with no arbitrary attributes. Furthermore, other arguments for God’s existence give us independent reasons to believe that his existence is metaphysically necessary.)

One potential response is to say that, while all of these universes are contingent, it is metaphysically necessary that some universe exists. But what on earth could make it necessary for some universe to exist when all of the universes that could exist are themselves not necessary? Moreover, this response does not evade the first premise: a cause is still required for a contingently existing universe.

Another potential response is to say that, in fact, every possible universe really exists necessarily. This avoids being as contrived as saying that only our universe is necessary. But now it violates Occam’s razor in a rather extreme way, and brings a host of philosophical difficulties along with it. (Not the least of which is that it entails a peculiar kind of fatalism, a position that most people take to be absurd.) So it does not seem to me that this is at all a plausible alternative to the second premise, either.

I have one more significant reason to believe that the universe exists contingently, and it is that our universe began to exist. If something has a beginning, it seems entirely possible for it to simply have not begun to exist when it did, and therefore to never have existed at all. So if our universe had a beginning, then its existence is contingent.

In my next post, I will explore the reasons I have to think that the universe began, while taking a detour through a different version of the cosmological argument. Then I will take a look at the justification for the final premise, to complete the argument.

37 thoughts on “The Cosmological Argument (I)

    1. My notion of cause does include a sustaining cause, but I’m not relying on any argument that the universe has to have a sustaining cause specifically.
      On the no-God hypothesis, if all of physical reality is still contingent and exists without being caused to exist, then it could cease existing for exactly the same reason it exists – that is, no reason at all. Why should it need something to knock it out of existence?

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    1. I know. I said the cause can be a sustaining cause. I just don’t think you need to show that the cause is a sustaining cause before running the argument. If it turns out that’s the kind of cause it needs to be, that’s fine.

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      1. Okay, thanks. I’m also wondering about your version of the PSR. I don’t see why every contingent thing would need a cause. If God is contingent, then your logic implies that God has a cause. Is there any reason to rule out that God is contingent? Swinburne isn’t the only theist who thinks God is only factually necessary. Would a quasi-maximally great being have a cause?
        Perhaps, I could understand if you added that, “every contingent thing needs an ‘explanation’ ” but that’s not what you said. You said “cause”.

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      2. I base my belief in the PSR on various reasons (see my posts on the PSR that I link to above) and from that infer that God is necessary. I think his necessity is also implied by the moral argument so there are multiple reasons for believing that. I use this version of the PSR because it seems to me that all explanations of contingent things are ultimately causal.

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      3. How is God’s necessity implied by ‘the’ moral argument? On your view, God is a moral lawgiver, but a moral lawgiver is not equal to God. Even if the moral argument got you to Omnibenevolence, that’s not enough to retain the label “God”. God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent.

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      4. His necessity is implied by the moral argument because at least some moral truths are necessary, so if God is the ground of such moral truths then he exists necessarily. We get that the moral lawgiver is God by Occam’s razor: we have, for example, the cosmological and teleological arguments revealing an intelligent creator of the universe, and the moral argument revealing a moral lawgiver; the simplest hypothesis that accounts for both is that these arguments reveal the same being.

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      5. Just because I think that not all necessary truths need an explanation does not mean that some necessary truths (moral truths, in this case) are just as expected or plausible given naturalism as they are given theism.
        And certain Godelian ontological arguments are useful for getting to a full concept of God, but you can also argue for God with all his attributes using abductive rather than deductive reasoning.

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      6. Well, speaking in terms of metaphysical possibility, of course I think the first of those is true: God exists necessarily so it is impossible for anything to exist apart from him. 😉 But speaking in terms of epistemic possibility or probability, then of course I can only say the second of those.

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      7. You also said, “On the no-God hypothesis, if all of physical reality is still contingent and exists without being caused to exist, then it could cease existing for exactly the same reason it exists – that is, no reason at all.”

        Yeah, it COULD cease to exist…there’s no logical contradiction. But a coin could turn into a tree.

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      8. No. Whatever could happen, could happen, and for various reasons it is problematic to believe that there are things that could happen for no reason. Again, see my posts about the PSR for more details, but my reasons for believing it can be summed up this way:
        – Non-deductive forms of reasoning would not be valid if the PSR was false. Our rational intuitions give us properly basic belief that non-deductive forms of reasoning are valid, and so they support the PSR.
        – The truth of the PSR is the best explanation for the fact that we do not observe violations of it all the time.
        – If possibility is grounded in the causal powers of things that exist (which I think makes the most sense of metaphysical possibility, for reasons I explain in this post: https://structureoftruth.wordpress.com/2017/08/19/metaphysical-modality/) then this implies the PSR.

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      9. Sorry, I didn’t mean to say that the PSR applies to strict logical possibility. The modality that the PSR is concerned with is metaphysical.
        I’m not sure what you were getting at by pointing that out, though. If you think metaphysical possibility is restricted in such a way that trees can’t turn into coins for no reason, it seems to me that this is because it isn’t within the causal powers of a tree to turn into a coin. But that kind of causal account of modality implies the PSR.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. In reality, I don’t actually agree that there is this thing called “metaphysical possibility”, and that it is distinct from logical possibility. In fact, I’m not quite sure how the contingency argument/PSR can work without buying into the notion of metaphysical possibility. Am I supposed to just grant you this?

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  1. What about the God hypothesis generates the prediction that there will exist the universe we see? If anything, what we see is totally surprising if God exists. If God exists, God can make all of reality be only supernatural/immaterial. And why would God create anything at all? And if God does, why would God create anything contingent?

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    1. God’s reasons for creating are something I will discuss when I write about the teleological argument and the problem of evil. But I don’t at all see it as the problem you seem to think it is. Why wouldn’t God create something? Sure, he’s perfect and he doesn’t need to create anything, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have reasons to do so. There’s moral and aesthetic value in creating the universe and embodied moral agents in it.

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      1. I recommend Alexander Press’s paper on Divine Creative Freedom for understanding the question of why God would create something contingent. It can be found on his website, I believe.

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      2. On theism, we can have moral agents without a physical/fine-tuned universe. We can also have a different version of free will without suffering. Certainly we don’t need the horrific suffering that actually exists to have a relationship with God, which is supposed to be our greatest good on theism.

        I’m not saying that God can’t create anything, rather, I am skeptical that he would. I’m not just going to assume that God would create something. But in terms of reality including our universe, yes, I do think that is some evidence on the scale in favor of naturalism.

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      3. I agree that we can have moral agents without a fine-tuned physical universe (though not embodied agents). But don’t you think there is aesthetic value in having such a universe and placing embodied agents within it? I’m not just assuming that God would create something; I’m saying that he might do so if he had reasons to, and the moral and aesthetic value that may be realized in such a universe provides such a reason.

        I never suggested that there was no evidence in favour of naturalism. (Did I?) The problem of evil and suffering is just that. But I will be responding to that problem in future posts.

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  2. You wrote, “It should go without saying that the universe exists.”

    Universe is only one view or perception (human perception) among trillions and zillions of perceptions of what actually exists.

    In other words, universe does not exist, what exists is that of which the universe is the percept of.

    (See Kant’s Transcendental Idealism).

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    1. I think your “trillions and zillions of perceptions of what actually exists” are actually only two: either an external reality of some kind exists, or it doesn’t, and then the only things that exist are minds and their internal experiences.
      Nevertheless, if you’re an idealist, you can replace the universe with whatever idealistic structure you prefer, and the cosmological argument still proceeds.
      For what it’s worth, you can find my thoughts about philosophical idealism in this post: https://structureoftruth.wordpress.com/2017/07/08/the-physical-universe/
      Ultimately though, I think it is based on an epistemology in conflict with common sense.

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  3. structureoftruth wrote,
    “Logical possibility is about whether you can derive contradictions from a statement given the laws of logic. Metaphysical possibility is about what states of affairs may be actual.”
    You are right, a proposition which is logically possible may or may not be metaphysically possible. But a proposition which is logically impossible is definitely metaphysically impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You wrote, “I think your “trillions and zillions of perceptions of what actually exists” are actually only two: either an external reality of some kind exists, or it doesn’t, and then the only things that exist are minds and their internal experiences.”

    Seems you did not understand what I wrote.

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  5. I want to make a correction to my another reply:

    I had written, ” a proposition which is logically possible may or may not be metaphysically possible. But a proposition which is logically impossible is definitely metaphysically impossible.”

    Instead I should have written, ” a proposition which is logically possible may or may not be metaphysically ACTUAL. But a proposition which is logically impossible is definitely metaphysically impossible.

    The concept of metaphysical possibility or impossibility makes no sense.

    I do not know if I have expressed what I want to say properly.

    Anyway peace be unto all.

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  6. O.K. now I can express myself in better language, I hope:

    Something’s being logically possible is not enough to tell us that it is really possible, however, something’s being logically impossible is enough to tell us that it is really impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “everything that exists in the universe has a cause, but the existence of the universe itself is simply a bare, inexplicable fact. It is question-begging and arbitrary to make this exception without supporting reasons, so what reasons are there to think that the first premise does not apply to the universe?”
    Nothing in the universe is caused to exist; everything is a transformation of matter and/or energy which already exists. So it is a fact that the first premise is false and doesn’t apply to anything within the universe. It also doesn’t apply to the universe as a whole because time began with the universe, so there was no “before” in which any cause could operate.
    “Going even further, we could ask why a universe like ours exists instead of a fantasy universe like Tolkien’s Middle Earth, or C. S. Lewis’s Narnia.”
    According to you, we do live in such a universe: the Christian fantasy universe, complete with resurrections, demons, and water turning into wine. The fact that our universe appears to be completely natural is consistent with their being no God. In any case, if other universes exist, they wouldn’t occupy the same physical space as ours, so we wouldn’t be able to observe them. Even through the back of a wardrobe.
    “Note: in contrast, it is not ad hoc to suppose that God exists necessarily, since, unlike the universe, he is a metaphysically simple, perfect being with no arbitrary attributes.”
    Are you referring to the abstract god the cosmological argument deceptively references, or the actual Christian God as described in the Bible? I don’t see how something can be ‘metaphysically simple’ and also think or have emotions.
    “Another potential response is to say that, in fact, every possible universe really exists necessarily. This avoids being as contrived as saying that only our universe is necessary. But now it violates Occam’s razor in a rather extreme way”
    No it doesn’t. The set of all possible universes would be simpler than any one universe, in the same way that a computer program to generate a specific million-digit random integer would have to be at least a million characters long, (print [million digit number]) but every possible integer – including the above million-digit one – could be generated with a much shorter program. (a=0; print a; a=a+1; loop)

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    1. Re: “nothing is caused to exist because it is just transformed from existing matter.”
      Unnecessarily restrictive definition of “caused to exist.” If I build a chair out of wood, I cause it to exist, even if I didn’t cause the material it is made out of to exist. Distinction between efficient and material cause here is important.

      Re: “no time before beginning of universe, therefore no possible cause.”
      Doesn’t rule out timeless or simultaneous cause. See my earlier posts on the PSR for why I think you’re going to need some very powerful reasoning to argue for exceptions like this.

      Re: “universe appears completely natural, consistent with there being no God.”
      This is false; see (at the very least) the moral argument and the evidence for the resurrection.

      Re: “cosmological argument God is not the same as Christian God.”
      God as referred to in the cosmological argument is underspecified. This doesn’t prove nonidentity, and since I’m not claiming that the cosmological argument alone demonstrates Christianity, there’s no deception going on here.
      Here I am using “metaphysically simple” to mean “not composed of parts”; God is a single unified thing not made up of smaller things, but this doesn’t be can’t have complex properties like mental states. (My description “no arbitrary attributes” covers that side of the equation.)

      Re: “set of all possible universes doesn’t violate Occam’s razor”.
      Your little bit of analogical reasoning there doesn’t really do a good job of showing that the multiverse is parsimonious. Universes don’t exist merely potentially, like numbers that could be generated by running a computer program. They exist actually, like numbers that have been generated and stored in memory or printed out on paper. And a single number written on a piece of paper is simpler than the set of all numbers written out on infinite reams of paper.

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      1. “Unnecessarily restrictive definition of “caused to exist.” If I build a chair out of wood, I cause it to exist, even if I didn’t cause the material it is made out of to exist. Distinction between efficient and material cause here is important.”

        Surely you’re not trying to suggest that there is no important distinction between you making a chair and the universe “beginning to exist”? This is a fallacy of composition (by asserting that what applies to things within the universe also applies to the whole universe) as well as an equivocation fallacy. For the sake of argument, let’s have it your way and agree that chairs, wood, and trees are examples of things being “caused to exist”. Now we can restate the cosmological argument as follows:

        1. Everything which begins to exist has a natural cause.

        2. The universe began to exist.

        3. Therefore, the universe has a natural cause.

        ***

        “Doesn’t rule out timeless or simultaneous cause. See my earlier posts on the PSR for why I think you’re going to need some very powerful reasoning to argue for exceptions like this.”

        You’ll first have to provide evidence that such a thing as timeless or simultaneous causation exists. The PSR (like occam’s razor) is an appealing idea, but there’s no reason(!) to think it should apply to everything. I don’t see how it can apply to itself, for a start. In any case, you are the one arguing for exceptions.

        *

        “This is false; see (at the very least) the moral argument and the evidence for the resurrection.”

        The evidence for the resurrection consists of a few contradictory claims in an old book. The evidence for UFOs is far stronger: thousands of living eyewitnesses, photos, videos, radar traces, etc. Human morality is best explained as based on our evolutionary heritage as social animals.

        ***

        “God is a single unified thing not made up of smaller things, but this doesn’t be can’t have complex properties like mental states.”

        The only things we know of that have mental states are brains, which are the most complicated structures we know of in the universe. It doesn’t make any sense to blithely dismiss this fact by just asserting that such complexity isn’t required. Please explain how something with no parts can think. Or can do anything, for that matter.

        ***

        “Universes don’t exist merely potentially, like numbers that could be generated by running a computer program. They exist actually, like numbers that have been generated and stored in memory or printed out on paper. And a single number written on a piece of paper is simpler than the set of all numbers written out on infinite reams of paper.”

        You could print out a mathematical formula which would represent the set of all integers on a single piece of paper without having to actually print out all the integers. In any case, I don’t see how the physical existence (or otherwise) of these numbers makes any difference.

        Allow me to quote physicist Max Tegmark:

        “The mathematical universe hypothesis implies that such a simple theory must predict a multiverse. Why? Because this theory is by definition a complete description of reality: if it lacks enough bits to completely specify our universe, then it must instead describe all possible combinations of stars, sand grains and such — so that the extra bits that describe our universe simply encode which universe we are in, like a multiversal telephone number. In this way, describing a multiverse can be simpler than describing a single universe.”

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      2. “This is a fallacy of composition (by asserting that what applies to things within the universe also applies to the whole universe) as well as an equivocation fallacy.”

        The composition fallacy is inferring that because the parts of a thing have a property, then the thing itself has that property. But I am not arguing that the universe has a cause because it is made of things that have causes; so I am not committing the composition fallacy. You seem to be assuming that I am making certain arguments without reading the arguments that I have actually made.

        Neither am I equivocating on the meaning of causation: in the premises of the argument and in my supporting reasons for those premises, I mean _efficient_ causation, through and through. As for your parody argument, Wes Morriston has put forward a very similar one (using “material cause” instead of “natural cause”). William Lane Craig’s response to that argument (see here, if you’re interested: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/scholarly-writings/the-existence-of-god/must-the-beginning-of-the-universe-have-a-personal-cause-a-rejoinder/) works just as well against yours.

        ***

        “You’ll first have to provide evidence that such a thing as timeless or simultaneous causation exists.”

        In fact, I don’t; since your argument was that the universe _can’t_ have a cause because there is no time before the beginning of the universe, the mere possibility of timeless or simultaneous causation is enough to overturn it.

        ***

        “The PSR (like occam’s razor) is an appealing idea, but there’s no reason(!) to think it should apply to everything. I don’t see how it can apply to itself, for a start. In any case, you are the one arguing for exceptions.”

        Again, try actually reading my supporting reasons for the PSR that I referenced in the post. Not sure what exceptions you think I am arguing for.

        ***

        “The evidence for the resurrection consists of a few contradictory claims in an old book. The evidence for UFOs is far stronger: thousands of living eyewitnesses, photos, videos, radar traces, etc. Human morality is best explained as based on our evolutionary heritage as social animals.”

        I’d be happy to discuss these further in the comments on relevant posts (they are off-topic here). You can click on the “Posts” page at the top of my site to find posts about the moral argument and the evidence for the resurrection.

        ***

        “The only things we know of that have mental states are brains, which are the most complicated structures we know of in the universe.”

        What we _know_ have mental states are _ourselves_. We also know that our brain activity is correlated with our mental states. This isn’t sufficient to show that it is our brains (and nothing else) that actually have the mental states in question, and there is in fact good reason to doubt it, as I go over in my series of posts about the existence of mental properties and entities.

        As for how something with no parts can think or do anything at all, it is simply a matter of the properties and causal powers that said being has.

        ***

        “In any case, I don’t see how the physical existence (or otherwise) of these numbers makes any difference.”

        Perhaps if I take what you wrote and rephrase it, it will make more sense: “I don’t see how the physical existence of all these other universes makes any difference.” When it is universes we are talking about, their physical existence is what makes all the difference. There may be _some_ sense in which the _description_ of the multiverse is simpler than the _description_ of a single universe (though you have to go to a really unrestricted, and entirely speculative, version of the multiverse to get that simplicity, and even then it seems to me that the simplicity relies on prior truths about what is physically or metaphysically possible, external to the multiverse itself). But a _description_ of a thing is not the thing itself.

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  8. “Neither am I equivocating on the meaning of causation: in the premises of the argument and in my supporting reasons for those premises, I mean _efficient_ causation, through and through.”

    1. Everything that exists contingently has a cause of its existence.

    This refers to causes which reshape existing matter and/or energy. As far as we can tell by observing the universe, these causes are all natural.

    2. The universe exists contingently.

    If this refers to the same type of cause as premise 1, then the cause of the universe is just another natural process reshaping existing stuff. If it’s referring to a different type of cause, like something being caused to exist ‘out of nothing’, then either premise 1 or premise 2 (or both) should be dropped.

    3. If the universe has a cause of its existence, then God exists.

    This doesn’t follow from the premises, even if they’re sound, which they aren’t. It would make just as much sense to say “[…] universe-creating pixies exist”.

    *

    “As for your parody argument…”

    My argument isn’t a parody argument, it’s a much better argument than yours because it’s simpler and doesn’t appeal to anything supernatural. WLC’s (overlong) argument contains this old trope: “something cannot come from nothing”, a claim which is quite literally based on absolutely nothing.

    *

    “In fact, I don’t; since your argument was that the universe _can’t_ have a cause because there is no time before the beginning of the universe, the mere possibility of timeless or simultaneous causation is enough to overturn it.”

    This is a very odd thing to say. Just because you can claim that something is possible doesn’t mean it actually is possible.

    *

    “What we _know_ have mental states are _ourselves_”

    You’re just assuming here that “ourselves” are not just our brain state, without justification.

    “We also know that our brain activity is correlated with our mental states.”

    Not just “is correlated with”, but an almost one-to-one correspondence where individual thoughts, sensations, memories, and mental abilities are found to be localised to particular areas of the brain. Where diseases, drugs, sleep, and ageing affect our mental abilities in highly specific ways, and where experiments show that changes in brain activity precede changes in thinking to the extent that, in laboratory experiments, it’s possible to predict the outcome of decisions with good accuracy before the subject is even aware that they’ve made a decision. There’s only so far you can reasonably take “correlation doesn’t prove causation” before it starts to look unreasonable.

    *

    “As for how something with no parts can think or do anything at all, it is simply a matter of the properties and causal powers that said being has.”

    Your response here is basically “just because”.

    *

    “I don’t see how the physical existence of all these other universes makes any difference.”

    We’re talking about explanations here. If every possibility exists, there’s no need to explain why any individual possibility exists. The physical existence of these possibilities is irrelevant. Bearing in mind your reliance on Aquinas and Aristitle, shouldn’t you already hold to the idea that there are “universals” which are simpler than individual things? Why can’t there be a universal universal?

    If not, I’ll just accept your claim that the multiverse is the ultimate in complicated things, and just point out that that doesn’t disprove it.

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